The producer/director teams behind the Russian Figures in the Urban Landscape (post-prod) and Panamanian Wild Gleaming Space (script development) are in Rotterdam to raise interest and finance, as well as benefit from business and creative input of the international experts in attendance.
Ekaterina Selenkina’s experimental doc Figures in the Urban Landscape, budgeted at €147,000 and co-produced by Dutch Mountain Film, promises to be a meditative reflection on the Russian capital, at the same time focussing on the evolving modus operandi among pushers of illegal drugs.
In December 2019 the project was awarded the Eurimages Lab Project Award and €50,000 at Les Arcs Film Festival.
The film centres on dealer Denis who hides illicit packages in discreet but identifiable locations and then sends pictures of these hidden spots to his customers. At the same time the film will present a choreography of the city’s inhabitants, underlining the anonymity within their daily lives.
“The film deals with this very new and timely way of drug dealing that has kicked off in Russia, as well as other countries,” confirmed Selenkina when the BoostLN project was rolled out at the Netherlands Film Festival.
“The politics around drugs in Russia is very intense and you can easily go to prison, so the drug dealers have to hide drugs in the city as they deal on the Dark Web. They have to be hidden underground, under fences, under benches etc. When I saw this happening I was very fascinated by this very solitary figure wandering around the city, but also I think a lot about the politics around it and the number of prisoners there are related to drug crimes. I wanted to expose this new system and pose some questions around it.”
She added: “The film is quite specific in how it treats the story because the narrative is very subtle. We don’t really have a character arc or anything like this. It is very much centred around landscape and how people navigate it. We never really come close to the characters we have in the film and the landscape becomes as important as the people.”
Shooting on the Hubert Bals Fund-backed project is finished and the film is in post-production. Producer Vladimir Nadein points out that he is looking to find a partner to collaborate on a 16mm scan. The pair are also looking to meet festival directors and programmers, sales agents, distributors, VOD representatives and marketing experts that are interested in “unconventional films”. Figures in the Urban Landscape would be interesting for audiences from different regions, they argue, because it portrays ways of drug dealing via the Dark Web that has recently emerged in many countries around the world.
The producers of Wild Gleaming Space (€250,000 budget) stress that they are eyeing up Italy and The Netherlands for co-pro accord. The documentary will investigate how certain protagonists have and maintain an intimate and profound dialogue with death.
“When I saw my father’s corpse, I immediately thought that my father was travelling to space, rediscovering another life,” stresses director Mauro Colombo. “The first question I asked myself was whether astronauts outside the Earth experience the same perception that souls experience when they leave the body. Returning from Italy to my home in Panama after my father’s funeral, I found an apparently lifeless body in the street. I tried to revive him. The person came back to life for a few seconds but then passed away.”
“At that moment I perceived his death as mine and my life as his: we were one and the same. I started reading about cases of near-death experiences: most of them describe a journey beyond the Earth, to a larger and lighter space than ours. In recent years I have also been studying meditation, as well as practising it, and somehow I felt that this practice was like a journey into an unknown inner space. How does one go about investigating death?”
The project is currently at script development and entering financing and pre-production phase.
Production company Apertura Films specialises in independent fiction and documentary films. Its most recent productions include Plaza Catedral (2020), Tierra Adentro (2018) and Ruben Blades Is Not My Name (2018). Its films have been selected for festivals such as SXSW, IDFA, Hot Docs and have won several international awards.